McDonalds’ New “Salad Plus” Line: A Review
First things first – I love McDonalds. I grew up as a typical American kid who thought Happy Meals were the greatest meal ever. I cheered when I moved to England and discovered that my beloved back-catalogue McChicken was still available there. I also got pretty damn chunky. Not long after moving to Australia I had one last burger and decided, “This is it.” I quit cold turkey. For a year and a half, I never even went into the restaurant.
Recently McDonalds Australia, in an attempt to defuse any possible litigation, announced that they would be adding salads and low-fat items to the menu permanently. (Unlike in the US, salads here were strictly a novelty item that would only be available for a limited time.) They call the new line Salads Plus. It consists of two salads, a veggie burger, a chicken wrap, two muffins, a yoghurt, and apples. New commercials show kids rejoicing that now their mothers will bring them to McDonalds more often, and mothers rejoicing that now there’s something for them to eat at Macca’s. (I find it funny – and telling – that they don’t actually show any of the kids eating the healthy stuff.) Anyway, I decided it was time to give McDonalds another try.My first stop was the new nutritional information cards. Zeroing in on the various carb counts, my jaw dropped. Sure, they advertise the stuff as being low-fat and healthy, but you wouldn’t believe how much sugar is in this stuff. (As all good Atkins pod people know, fat provides flavor, so when you take it out you have to make up the difference with sugar.) The yoghurt alone had over forty grams. The veggie burger, muffins, and chicken wrap were also out. That left two salads and the apple.
Ignoring the apple (because, really, what could Mickey Dee’s do to an apple?), I first went for the roast chicken salad. It still had a disturbing number of carbs (over twenty), but I chalked that up to croutons and dried cranberries. I chucked the croutons. The dried cranberries, however, were really good. So those stayed. I also chucked the provided salad dressing and used my own low-carb stuff. The end result was all right, I guess. There didn’t seem to be enough chicken to justify the higher price (as compared to the garden salad) and the salad mix was mostly iceberg lettuce. Verdict: It would do in a pinch, if I hadn’t brought my lunch to work and I was desperate for something healthy.
Yesterday I tried the other “garden” salad. This had a much better lettuce mix but fewer tomato slices. The carb count was only two grams! though, so I’m not complaining. (No croutons included this time.) I used the provided Italian dressing, which was better than expected. Again, it wasn’t much better than the crappy tossed salad you could get at any other restaurant, but for McDonalds it was a definite improvement.
One last semi-shameful admission: My willpower crumbled on the second visit and I bought a single cheeseburger. I justified it to myself by chucking the bun (as Dr. A. suggests) and just eating the inside, but man. Tossing aside that sweet, fatty roll was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in ages. I guess that’s the whole problem though, right?